Tag Archives: #Doris Graham Cleage

Our New Refrigerator – 1948

Ice box. Ice cost $8 a month.

In 1948 I was almost two years old and I lived in Springfield, Massachusetts. My family had an ice box. The ice cost $2 a week and was delivered daily. I don’t actually remember ice being delivered by horse wagon, but that’s how it worked. Ice came in blocks 25, 50, 75 0r 100 pounds, depending on the size of your ice box. We were a bit behind the average because by 1944 85% of households in the USA owned a refrigerator.

According to an online article, the ice rested on a metal corrugated shelf which allowed for the ice to melt with the water passing through a tube in the bottom of the compartment to a flat pan located under the icebox to catch the water. Some finer models had spigots for draining ice water from a catch pan or holding tank. People would lift the bottom flap, empty the water pan, and replace the pan for the next day’s use.

That summer, we spent three week visiting family in Detroit. While there discussion took place between my paternal grandparents and my parents about purchasing an electric refrigerator to replace our ice box in Springfield.

Steiger’s Department store in 1947

When we had returned home to Springfield, my mother and I went downtown to Steigers Department store and bought an electric refrigerator on time. Below is a letter she wrote to my paternal grandparents about the purchase. It is transcribed below the image.

July 17, 1948

Dear Folks,

Well – Kris and I went down to Steigers and bought the refridgerator yestereday- to the tune of $315.00! Can you imagine? I had been thinking in terms of $200! It is a G.E. De Luxe 8 ft. (medium size) and is certainly beautiful. They also had a Philco – same size – same everything – but only $277.00. I sort of favored it, but I called Toddy and he said (from the bed of course) “G. E. – period!” So it will be delivered next Wednesday.

The store gave us a ten percent ministers discount of $31.50. Carrying charges came to about $20 – so final price was about $304. Down payment was $56.70 and beginning August we’ll make eighteen monthly payments of $13.80. That should hardly be felt because ice comes to amost $8 a month and I’m sure I’ll save more than $5 on food – to say nothing of convenience and peace of mind!

Kris is completely recovered and she told me yesterday – “That’s the way” – then smiled and said “Gamma.” Then she said “Gamma’s hat” and pointed to her head.” What hat does she remember? The black shiny one at the station? Anyway she looked pleased about it.

Write soon, Doris

In my mind, I can still hear my grandmother Cleage saying “Dat’s de way!” as she did to the littlest ones.

My stylish grandparents – Albert and Pearl Cleage. He is wearing the rakish white hat and she is wearing the stylish black hat, with a feather. Was that the hat I remembered? It is very memorable.
June 1948 during that trip to Detroit at my maternal grandparent’s house.

My grandmother Fannie, my grandfather Mershell and my mother Doris. I am standing on the table. I was 22 months old. My mother was about three months pregnant with my little sister Pearl.

This is the same refrigerator still working fine in 1962. My mother standing in front of it 14 years later.

That refrigerator was still going strong when I moved out on my own in 1969. When my parents left Detroit in 1975 and moved to a house that had a more modern fridge they left it behind. That new one, I might add, did not last as long as the one my mother bought in 1948.

This is the inside of the refrigerator. The freezer is that door on the right. There were two ice cube trays.
Ice cube tray. You had to run a bit of warm water on it to get the ice cubes out.
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Links to related posts

K is for King St. Springfield, MASS

Cousins Christened – 1948

1948 Sears Christmas Book – add for refrigerator

An “At Home” In Honor of Chicago Visitors

"At Home Eliza's descendents"
Hosts and guests posed for photograph. My mother, Doris Graham is the first on the far left. Her sister Mary V. is second from the right. Publisher James McCall is right in the middle.
"At Home Eliza's Descendants verso"
Verso of Photograph
From the Detroit Tribune

“This is not the picture of a family reunion, although all in the group, with the exception of one intimate friend, are relatives who stood in the receiving line or assisted otherwise at the “At Home” given Monday evening, December 26 from 6 to 9 o’clock, at the McCall’s residence on Parker avenue, the affair was in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Howard, of Chicago, brother and sister of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. McCall and Mrs Robert F. Johnson, a sister, greeted guests at the door, while Miss Mary Virginia Graham, a cousin, acted as registrar. Mrs. Moses L. Walker, a sister, introduced the guests to the host and hostess, who in turn presented them to others in the receiving line – Dr. and Mrs. Howard, the honorees; Miss Victoria McCall, daughter; Miss Louise McCall, niece, of Chicago; and Miss Mignon Walker, also a niece. Mrs. William Hawthorn, a friend of the family, presided at the punch bowl, assisted by Miss Doris Graham, a cousin of the McCalls; and Miss Margaret McCall, a daughter. At the close of the reception, the principals and assistants stood together and were snapped by the camera. They are left to right: Doris Graham, Mignon Walker, Louise McCall, Victoria McCall, Dr. and Mrs J. E. McCall, Mrs. M. I. Walker, ( not named was Margaret McCall) Mrs R. F. Johnson, Mary Virginia Graham and Mrs. William Blackburn.”

The Detroit Tribune, Detroit, Michigan 31 Dec 1938, Sat  •  Page 5

The Detroit Tribune was published by James E. McCall and his wife, Margaret Walker McCall. He was also a poet and had lost his sight while attending college after having typhoid fever.

The links below take you to more information about various people in the photograph.

Victoria McCall interviews Eleanor Roosevelt in 1945
1940 Census – James and Margaret McCall and Family
James Edward McCall, Poet and Publisher 1880 – 1963
Interview With Mignon Walker Brown & 3 Hats
Otillia McCall Howard
Louise and Ronnie
Mary Virginia Graham – Social Reporter
Doris Graham, High School Senior – 1940
F – FAMILY, MY GRAHAMS in the 1920 Census
My Mother in the News

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L – Leaves

This is my ninth year of blogging the A to Z Challenge. Everyday I will share something about my family’s life during 1950. This was a year that the USA federal census was taken and the first one that I appear in. At the end of each post I will share a book from my childhood collection.

Pearl, our mother Doris, Kristin (Me). October 1950. Springfield, Massachusetts

Now and Then

Golden leaves fell in the bushes 
overnight brightening my yard. 
Behind my eyes, 
I walk beside a river 
with my mother.  Trees all golden. 
A dog splashes in the water, 
 shakes  himself . 
My four year old self 
watches.
Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather

I – I Was There!

This is my ninth year of blogging the A to Z Challenge. Everyday I will share something about my family’s life during 1950. This was a year that the USA federal census was taken and the first one that I appear in. At the end of each post I will share a book from my childhood collection.

I wrote about being in the 1950 Census ten years ago. Let’s see what I got right and what I got wrong. The first post was I was there.

My father, Albert B. Cleage, was 38 years old and he had worked 60 hours during the past week a pastor of a Congregational Church, not a Methodist church as it says in the 1950 census. He was born in Indiana. He and all members of the family were identified as Negro.

Census Sheet from 1950 Census Archives. Some people were asked extra questions. The red line leads from those family members to the extras. Pearl actually appeared on the next page, but for ease of viewing, I’ve added her to this page. Click to enlarge.

My mother, Doris G. Cleage, was 27. She was a housewife and her hours were not recorded. She was born in Michigan. She got to answer the extra questions and they show that the family lived in the same place the year before and that she had completed 4 years of college.

I, Kristin, was three years old. My younger sister Pearl who appears on the next page, was 1. We were both born in Massachusetts.

So, I didn’t get anything wrong, although the census did, getting the denomination wrong.

I Can Fly

I remember reading this book to my younger cousin Marilyn years later. She eventually memorized the book.

____________

I’m ’m also participating in the Genealogy Blog 1950s Blog Party hosted by Elizabeth Swanay O’Neal, “The Genealogy Blog Party: Back to the 1950s,” Heart of the Family™ https://www.thefamilyheart.com/genealogy-blog-party-1950s/

D – Democracy & Doris

This is my ninth year of blogging the A to Z Challenge. Everyday I will share something about my family’s life during 1950. This was a year that the USA federal census was taken and the first one that I appear in. At the end of each post I will share a book from my childhood collection.

My mother helping me hold my many dolls. Notice that Pearl always has only one doll.

Democracy is Not ‘Separate’

Click to enlarge

To the Editor of The Union:

Sir: In answer to “Home Owner” whose letter appeared June 21, there are three things I would point out. First, Americans believe in democracy, which means equality for all people — not separate equality, but plain and simple equality.

Second, no matter which way you look at it, Negroes are people just like other people. If at times they seem different, it is because misguided people like you have forced them to live under “separate” subhuman conditions.

Third, from coast to coast in the North of this country Negro people and white people live, work, play and worship together in happiness and in peace because there are Americans who believe in democracy, Christianity and love, and are big enough to live by them.

Doris Graham Cleage
Springfield

Below is the letter my mother was responding to.

The Race Problem and Housing

Click to enlarge

To the Editor of The Union:

Sir: In regard to the colored people buying homes among the white home owners, would first say, personally, I have nothing against them, for there are many fine folk among these people; but is it fair and right to us homeowners, who have worked to keep up our own homes, pay taxes, and make improvements within the laws of this city?

Do we have no voice in this matter, when we are being forced out? Would the city fathers, who advocate the merging of the two races here in this city, wish to live in the same neighborhood?

In a neighborhood supposed to be made up of happy congenial people, would the colored people be happy among us, and would we be? I have no doubt we would not. Our only alternative will be to sell to them, and try to start over. Why doesn’t the city build proper housing conditions for them in a district of their own? Is it too late?

Would like to hear how other home owners feel concerning this problem.

HOME OWNER

Springfield

_________________________________________________________________________

Meanwhile, as a three year old, I was oblivious.

The Surprise Doll.

I Was There – The 1950 U.S. Census

The other day I was thinking about when the next census would released – 2022.  I enjoyed finding my family and placing them in context in the 1940 Census. I thought that I know much of the information that would be asked on the 1950 Census.  Why wait?  I Googled a blank form for the 1950 Census. This is the first of a series based on all of the unpublished censuses – 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. I was there!

1950_population_questionnaire_media
Click to see the 1950 and all US census forms
springfield_directory
From the Springfield MA City Directory, 1951
Recent photo of the house we lived in at 643 Union Street. Combination rooming house upstairs and parsonage downstairs.

The 1950 Census is the first one in which I make an appearance. I was three years old. We lived at 643 Union Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was the parsonage/ community house located next to the church.

albert_st.johns
Rev. Albert B. Cleage

My father, Albert B. Cleage, was the “head” of the household.  He was 38 years old and had worked for 52 weeks as the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church. I do not know how much he earned the previous year, but I’m sure it was on the low side of the $2,992 average wage. He was born in Indiana and both of his parents were born in the United States. He had completed at least 1 year of post degree college work.

springfield_ma_kids
Pearl, Doris & Kristin Cleage

My mother, Doris G. Cleage, was my father’s wife.  She was 27 years old and was born in Michigan.  Both of her parents were also born in the U.S.A.  She had completed four years of college and had not worked outside of the home the previous year. She had given birth to two children, both of them still alive.  Three year old Kristin and one year old Pearl had both been born in Massachusetts. My parents had been married 6 years. Everybody in the house was identified as “Neg(ro)”.  My mother took education classes at Springfield College in 1950 but I’m not sure if it was before or after April, when the census was taken.

Some things that I know about my family at that time that aren’t listed include that we did not own a car and that my father hoped to eventually find a church in Detroit so they could move back home.  This happened the following year, 1951.

I have added two articles from April, 1950 concerning my parents activities.  Read more about our life on Union Street at – U is for Union Street. Read an overview of news and other happenings for the 1950s here American Cultural History 1950 – 1959.

segregation
mrs_cleage_speaks

For this post I used ancestry.com, newspapers.com, family photos and personal knowledge.

D – DORIS Graham born 1923

Now we go to the maternal side of my family, the Grahams. My mother Doris Graham was born February 12, 1923, the third of the four children of Mershall and Fannie (Turner) Graham.

From mother Fannie’s Bible

“3rd baby – Doris J. Graham born February 12th – 1923. 5:10 a.m.- on Monday at Woman’s Hospital Beaubien and For(est) – (Detro)it Mic(h)”

Mary Virginia, Dad, Doris 1923
Mother, Doris 1924
Doris, Mary V, Mershell jr Feb. 1927
Grandmother Turner, Doris, Bonzo, Mary V., mother Fannie
Doris, Grandmother Turner, Howard, Mary V, back mother Fannie
Some of my mother, Doris Graham’s, memories of her childhood

About four blocks around the corner and down the street from Theodore was a vacant lot where, for some years ,they had a small carnival every year. I don’t remember the carnival at all. I never liked rides anyway. Not even the merry-go-round. But I remember it being evening, dark outside and we were on the way home. I don’t remember who was there except Daddy and I. He was carrying me because I was sleepy so I must have been very small. I remember my head on his shoulder and how it felt. The best pillow in the world. I remember how high up from the sidewalk I seemed to be. I could hardly see the familiar cracks and printings even when the lights from passing cars lighted things, which was fairly often because we were on Warren Ave. I remember feeling that that’s the way things were supposed to be. I hadn’t a worry in the world. I was tired, so I was carried. I was sleepy, so I slept. I must have felt like that most of my childhood because it’s still a surprise to me that life is hard. Seems that should be a temporary condition.

Siblings

Howard, Mary Vee and Doris Graham 1930

This picture was taken at Belle Isle in 1930, which used to be a city park in the Detroit River and was free to all. It has since been changed to a state park and there is a fee for entry. Howard must have been almost one year old, he had been born the previous September. He seems to be wearing a gown. Mary Vee was ten and Doris was seven.

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The Social Sixteen

I never realized how sociable my mother and other family members of her generation were until I started reading the social items in The Detroit Tribune. I first found this photograph in the family photographs of my mother, (center back row), her sister Mary Vee (seated on the floor), and my father’s sister Barbara seated on the couch to the far right. I also recognized my uncle Bud (Frank Elkins) who later married Mary Vee and a few family friends. I wondered what sociable things they did and when I found the following items in the Tribune, I found out.

No wonder my mother worried that I wasn’t social enough.

"The Social Sixteen"
The Social Sixteen – 1937 – from my family photos.
The Social Sixteen 1937. Howard Tandy, Phyllis Lawson, Shirley Turner, John Roxbourough, Doris Graham, Bob Johnson, Christine Smoot, Bud Elkins, Gladys House, Lewis Graham, Connie Stowers, Burney Watkins, Jean Johnson, Barbara Cleage, Jack Franklin, Mary V . Graham
The Detroit Tribune, January 8, 1938

“The Social Sixteen Club met at the residence of Gladys and Walter House, Monday, Dec. 27. Plans were completed for the club’s New Yea’s Eve swing, which was held on December 31. Following the completion of these plans, members turned their attention to the refreshments and dancing, both of which were enjoyed. Later in the evening, the crowd went out to Bob Johnson’s home on Montclair, where they had a grand time. These young folk included Jean Johnson Howard Tandy, Shirley Turner, Lewis Graham, Bob Douglas, Bud Elkins, Connie Stowers, Jack Franklin, Jack Barthwell, Vee Graham.”

From The Detroit Tribune, March 12, 1938

“Members of the Social Sixteen Club feel that they will have pleasant sailing, under the pilotship of their winsome new president Doris Graham, talented daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. C. Graham of Theodore avenue. Miss Graham is very popular among the “teen-age” set and is an honor student at Eastern High School.”

The Detroit Tribune, March 12, 1938

“The Social Sixteen Club held its latest meeting at the home of Mrs. Christine Smoot. After the completion of business, a repast was served by the hostess. The next meeting will be held at the residence of Miss Barbara Cleage, on Scotten avenue. At this meeting, they will render a program as follows; vocal solo, Christine Smoot; tap dance, Shirley Turner and Connie Stowers. The newly-elected officers of the club are; Doris Graham, president; Howard Tandy, vice president and corresponding secretary; Bob Johnson, secretary-treasurer.”

Well, we is in Los Angeles…

“This is our house the square (unreadable) one. Aug. 1944 Los Angeles

Hi Folks:

Well we is in Los Angeles… (Typewriter is still on the way) Our last two weeks in San Francisco were a conglomeration of everybody sending us on our way. We had supper out almost everyday — and all of San Francisco’s Elite entertained us — quite a time was had by all. We also received several gifts in addition to the church’s gift of books — Cigarettes — Candy — towel set — 2 lbs of coffee — ash trays — and books (even a copy of Strange Fruit). People were very nice — with their regrets and hopes that we will return when Thurman leaves. Frisky kept smiling even though it seemed to hurt his face.

Just before we we left we met Rev. Roy Nichols who has another inter-racial church (Congregational) across the Bay in Berkley. His co-pastor is Rev. Gallager who was president of Talladega College before coming to the “Pacific School of Religion”. Nichols “offered me a job “working with him and Gallager — and tried to arrange a meeting with Gallager but I was too busy. (I’m tired of inter-racial churches for the present!)

President Imes of Knoxville College sent me an application blank which I returned (with a letter in which I re-organized Knoxville’s curriculum around religious education!) He said he had an opening for a Prof. of Religious Ed — and a college Preacher — the combined job paying $1,890 per year and house.

(The top corner of the page, where the return address would be on the reverse side is torn out, leaving four half sentences.

….ply to my application …happy to have …ine training and …Knoxville faulty – but he would have to work slowly to get the Elders of the church – and he does not want to seem to be forcing – the issue etc. He also admitted that the salary is very inadequate (with which I agree!!!) He said that he had mentioned my application to the President of Virginia State College who also is looking for a College Preacher but just for a year while the regular preacher is away studying. He suggested that Virginia State will contact me — giving me the opportunity to pick the position which offers the best position. (Nice, isn’t he!)

Anyway – I’m writing Imes and advising him to take his time — I’d rather stay here until next fall anyway I can finish two years work at the U. of Southern California by that time. As I told him, I’m looking for a permanent position which will still allow me time for study during the summer — with an occasional semester off for study etc. I don’t suppose anything will come of it!

Los Angeles is a fine town! Except for our present financial uproar we like it better than any place we’ve been yet.

Our financial-uproar is due to the fact that we have not as yet received our last — $200 — pay! Dr. Smith stopped payment because I insisted upon $200 instead of $135 –. So — I have turned a bill into the church for the balance of $65 due. I suppose I’ll get it all one of these days! (over Frisky’s dead body!)

Our apartment is Super-duper!!! It’s “on the hill”– which in Detroit would be the “North-End” — except its more like Boston Blvd — or Lake-shore Drive!!! — Big — fine houses, lawns and palm-trees. Negroes have not broken into the “hill district” A Mrs. Hammonds of Detroit owns the building (Husband a racketeer (?) or something in Detroit). Our living room is right out of “House and Garden” magazine — It is long with blue wall to wall carpet — and white walls and woodwork — and white walls and colored upholstered furniture — end tables — cocktail table ‘n that — (Ohhh yes and Venetian Blinds at the windows which are all the way across one end of the room with wine-colored drapes at either end!) The bathroom is pale-blue tile with white woodwork ‘n that. Shower — built in bath tub ‘n’ that!

The only catch is the kitchen which is an alcove between the living room and the bah-room. It’s shrewd, too but it ain’t got neither sink nor stove! We’re supposed to get an electric plate to cook on — and the land lady is supposed to put in a sink! The ice-box and cupboard are in. It was called a Bachelor-apt. — and so had no stove or sink.

Click for more information on in-a-dor beds

Both the kitchen living room and bath have built in automatic heating units (gas). The living-room has an “In-a-door-bed” which is very nice — and the closet for clothes! We also have a garage for storage, the building is new and shrewd! Thousands of Negroes within walking distance and all in nice homes – quiet and taken care of just like white-folks. I can see why Daddy wanted to move out here. It would be a fine place to live if you had money!

We’ve been here eating at the restaurant ever since we got here – There’s a very nice little colored restaurant within walking distance “The Faun” – very elite — ‘n’ that! But our pocket-books won’t stand much more of it, — fun though while it lasts!!!

I registered at the University of Southern California today. Its a fine campus and buildings — I can’t tell about classes yet. With the religion fellowship — my bill was $73.00 for 16 hours (full semester). Without the reduction it would have been over $200.00 (and I’d a been right home!) Most (all but one) of my courses are in Cinema — with one religion course to enable me to register in the graduate school of religion.

Doris starts job-hunting any day now! She has an appointment with the Red-Cross and the Urban League. Can’t tell how everything is going to turn out — quite an escapade however, if we can just last a year! and then move on to New York – authorities in the field of Cinema and Religious Ed. ‘n’ that.

Tell the Junior Doctor to keep his fingers crossed until we wire him for money — and then to wire the money — and send “the I told you so” on by air-mail!

Well so-long

Other Letters Home

My Parents Time in San Francisco January to July 1944
Its Friday afternoon August 18, 1944
I have a little problem in “Design” December 20, 1944
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 1
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 2
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 3
Guess we must be writing too much.. January 6, 1945
Thanks for the Springfield information January 13, 1945
We received your letters…March 3, 1945
The Missing Months – March to November 1945